Counting the Cost by Pastor Abidan Shah

COUNTING THE COST by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

COUNTING THE COSTIntroduction: Have you ever heard the expression “counting the cost?” It means to evaluate whether or not something is worth doing. Last Monday I had to “count the cost” when we went with our Converge College and Career Group to a water park. They have this ride there called the “Daredevil Drop.” It’s a 76-foot foot tall water slide. I saw it as Nicole and I were going down the “Lazy River.” Something inside me said, “Won’t that be cool if you could do that and let Nicole video it! Imagine how much fun that would be! Imagine how many likes you could get on Facebook and Instagram! Imagine how many more people would come to Clearview just to see the Daredevil preacher!” So, we went and stood at the base and I watched people slide down, even kids. I counted the cost and it wasn’t worth it! I chickened out. I couldn’t give up my fear. So also, when it comes to our salvation, we have to count the cost. We have to ask ourselves, “What all am I willing to give up in order to be saved?” Please don’t misunderstand. Giving up doesn’t save us. Salvation from start to finish is the work of God. It’s only by grace through faith in the cross of Jesus and the empty tomb that we are saved. But, being willing to give up everything reveals whether or not we understand the gospel. It demonstrates how sincere and how committed we are to follow Christ our king.

 Mark 10   17Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” . . . 23Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” . . . 26And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”

Question: Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Are you willing to give up all in order to follow Christ? What is keeping you from following Christ? Are you saved?

Context: This series on the gospel has been impactful on so many levels. It has opened our eyes to the true meaning of the gospel. It has confronted our complacency and tolerance for sin in our lives. It has challenged us to live out the faith that we claim to have. And, more than anything, it has demanded from us unconditional allegiance to our Savior and King Jesus. In this message, we’re going to meet a young man who came to Jesus with all the right intentions but he walked away from eternal life because he was unwilling to give up everything he had. 3 things that we will learn from this passage:

I. JESUS DID NOT IMMEDIATELY LEAD HIM IN THE SINNER’S PRAYER.

Mark 10    17Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”18So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No oneisgood but One, that is,God.”

Did you notice that Jesus did not immediately lead him in the Sinner’s Prayer? He was not ready for it. He was under conviction but he was not ready to make a commitment to Christ. For starters, he had a wrong understanding of Jesus. Jesus was much more than just a “Good Teacher.” He was God in flesh, the Promised One, who had come to give his life for our sins. There are people who have prayed a prayer but never got saved because they didn’t know who they were praying to or what they were praying for.

By the way, the problem is not with the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Some people don’t like that term. I had a person say to me, “There is no Sinner’s Prayer in the Bible.” I asked him if he knew that the word “Trinity” is never found in the Bible and Jesus never used the word “grace” in the gospels. The real issue is what are we saying in the Sinner’s Prayer and do we mean it.If someone thinks that just repeating a prayer is going to save them, then they are greatly mistaken. But, if someone truly repents and acknowledges that Christ is the only way to salvation, then the next step is to pray to God. What does it say in Romans 10  9“that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Who do you confess to? Ultimately, to God. So, you have to talk to God and tell him that you believe. What is talking to God? Prayer. What happens when you truly pray and confess? Romans 10:13For“whoever calls on the name of the LORDshall be saved.”

Bottom Line: Jesus did not immediately lead the young man in some rote prayer. He challenged his understanding of the gospel. He challenged his understanding of himself. Jesus was much more than a “Good Teacher.” He was God in flesh.

Application:How were you saved? Was it just a rote mechanical prayer or did you truly understand the gospel that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again to save us from our sins? Have you ever prayed to receive Christ as your Savior and King?

II. JESUS CLEARLY LAID OUT THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP.  

 19You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,’ “Do not murder,’ “Do not steal,’ “Do not bear false witness,’ “Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”20And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”

At first glance, it seems that Jesus was telling this young man that by keeping the Ten Commandments, he could have eternal life! Was Jesus calling him to works salvation? Absolutely not. Paul declares very clearly in Galatians 2:21“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousnesscomesthrough the law, then Christ died in vain.”So, why did Jesus say this? Some have argued that Jesus was trying to get the young man to see the hopelessness and emptiness of keeping the Law. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the context that tells us that Jesus or the young man acknowledged that. Others have argued that Jesus was trying to get him to reject his works righteousness first. Unfortunately, Jesus did just the opposite. 21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” That’s not taking away “works righteousness,” that’s adding more “works righteousness!”

Why did Jesus bring up the 10 commandments and then tell him to sell everything and take up his cross and follow him? This young man knew that eternal life was not in keeping the Law but he was looking for an eternal life that was cheap and easy. He wanted to have the stamp of salvation and still carry on his old lifestyle. He wanted to get his certificate of the kingdom and still not obey the king. Jesus knew his heart and what he was saying to him was that “Yes, I will pay for your salvation. It’s free to you but following me will never be cheap and easy. There will be a cost to discipleship.”

Listen carefully:It cost Jesus his life to buy your pardon. If you follow him, it may cost you your life as well.” Don’t misunderstand: You don’t have to go sell everything and give to the poor before you can be saved but you be better be if your king tells you too.

Application:Have you counted the cost of discipleship? What are you willing to give up for your Savior and your King?

III. JESUS REVEALED THE SECRET TO FOLLOWING HIM. 

Mark 10   22But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?”

By the way, have you noticed that 3 different expressions were used for salvation?

  • The young man asked,“what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
  • Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
  • The disciples said, “Who then can be saved?

This means that the account was not just for the rich young ruler but all of us.

Now, what was Jesus’ response to his disciples?  27“. . . With menit isimpossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”If only that young man had done what Peter did when Jesus found him, this account would have a different ending. Remember, Peter had not caught anything all night and Jesus told him to launch out into the deep and drop their nets. He obeyed and there were so many fish that the net was breaking. Then it says in Luke 5:8When Simon Peter sawit,he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”Then Jesus said to Peter, 10“. . . Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” It was the Holy Spirit who enabled Peter and the rest (Andrew, James, and John) to forsake all and follow Christ.

Invitation: The question is not “Are you ableto follow Christ but are you willingto follow Christ?” If you are willing, he will do the rest. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. Are you willing?

Changing Seasons of A Marriage (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

CHANGING SEASONS OF A MARRIAGE (Article) by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on February 3, 2018) 

Genesis 8:22 “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season…”

Changing Seasons of a MarriageWe all have our favorite seasons. Many of us love the Fall with its changing leaves and beautiful colors. Some of us love Winter with its cooler temperatures. I know a lady in our church who left Florida because she got tired of the warm weather! She makes it a point to remind me that a perfect forecast is when they’re calling for below freezing! Personally, I love Spring because it’s a glimpse of the resurrection that awaits us. And, what can I say about Summer! Long days, beach trips, and the yellow inferno, which some call “the Sun.” No matter how much we love one season more than another, we cannot hold on to our favorite ones or skip over those we don’t like. They all change in due time and each one is essential for the next to arrive. Without Spring, there would be no Summer and Summer prepares us for Fall, which in turn ushers in Winter. In the same way, a marriage also has different seasons. We may prefer one over the other but we cannot hold on to any or skip over the ones we don’t like. I want to briefly explain the various seasons of a marriage and how that understanding can enhance your relationship. My information is coming from two books that have helped me greatly in my pre-marital and marital counselling: “Passages of Marriage” by Minirth, Newman, and Hemfelt; “Seasons of a Marriage” by H. Norman Wright. Altogether, there are five seasons in a marriage:

  1. “Fall Season” – It is romantic love filled with captivating colors and perfect temperatures. The air is full of expectations that the colors will never fade and the temperatures will never change. Unfortunately, the leaves start falling, the temperatures start dropping, and only the barren woods and brown grass remains. Unfulfilled expectations can sometimes lead to hurt, anger, and bad choices.
  2. “Early Winter Season” – It is marked by a growing realization that love is not enough to face the dropping temperatures. Bills, mortgage, and car payments have to made. But, it’s not all bad. It can also be a time of much joy and excitement with the arrival of new members in the family! New roles and adjustments have to be made but it is fulfilling. Warning: It can also be a time when silk sheets get replaced with flannel!
  3. “Late Winter Season” – With no Punxsutawney Phil in sight, the days seem depressing and meaningless. Being locked up indoors, the defects in each other become more distinct and annoying. Cabin fever can sometimes drive people to venture out to re-discover themselves. Someone cleverly called it the “go-away-closer disease,” where the spouse wants to be closer and yet pushes the other person away. If properly handled, it can actually lead to deeper intimacy and commitment.
  4. “Spring Season” – Just when it seems that winter would last forever, the leaves start budding, the flowers start blooming, the birds start singing, the temperature starts rising, and “love is in the air.” Having weathered the harsh winter of life, people become more realistic and mature. Don’t take this as some “as good as it gets” life. Instead, it brings a far richer love and appreciation for one another.
  5. “Summer Season” – Far from being the “last years” of a marriage, these can be the “masterpiece years.” Michelangelo began his work on the Sistene Chapel at 76 and created the architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli at 88. Having been through the hurricanes of the Fall, blizzards of the Winter, hay fever of the Spring, and other unexpecteds of life, you are well-qualified for a masterpiece marriage.

Remember: “Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall; All you got to do is call” on God and he will see you through any season of your marriage.

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Six

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 6 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy6

Today is our final message in this series called KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE. Again, I’m amazed at how much you loved these messages and passed it along to friends and family! It tells us that there is a great hunger for truth about marriage and family.

Matthew 5   27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: The passage we just read troubled me a lot growing up. As a little boy, I remember my dad preaching on it several times and each time it left me more confused and worried and afraid. Why? Because I seriously thought that by the time I was 6 or 7, I’d be blind and by the time I was 10, I’d have both my hands chopped off. I would actually wonder – I know I can use my left hand to chop off my right hand but then how about my left hand? Maybe I can use my feet or maybe get a friend to do it. What in the world is Jesus talking about when he says – 29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you…”

If there’s one sin that God takes very seriously, probably more than others, it is sexual sins. If there’s one sin that human beings do not take very seriously, it is sexual sins. We blame everything and everyone, other than ourselves. Unfortunately, the consequences are devastating and the penalty is severe.

Question: How seriously do you take sexual sins? How seriously do you take the sins of the body? Do you understand the tremendous consequences that follow sexual sins? Do you understand God’s wrath against sexual sins? Are you saved?

3 questions we’re going to answer about marriage from this passage:

QUESTION #1 – SHOULD WE PRACTICE SELF-MORTIFICATION? NO.

People throughout the history of the church have misunderstood this passage. A great example was the church father by the name of Origen from Alexandria, Egypt. First he tried to roll naked over sharp briars but when that didn’t work, he actually had himself castrated. Later on he was sorry that he had made that decision. Some circles still practice flagellations and wear cilices. Is this what Jesus was saying in this passage? The first thing to keep in mind is that self-mutilation is forbidden in the Bible. Deuteronomy 14:1 “You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves…”

What exactly is Jesus saying in this passage? To answer this question, you have to understand the moral setting in the time of Jesus. Things weren’t much different than today. Most Greeks and Romans strongly condemned adultery. To say that someone was adulterous was considered a big insult. It was thought of as stealing. After all, a wife was considered to be a husband’s property. Looking at many of the ancient plays and dramas of the time, even the common public looked down upon adultery. Jewish people, especially, strongly condemned adultery. It was considered shameful.

Having said that, adultery was quite common back then. The Roman philosopher Seneca says that those who do not practice adultery stand out. Even the Jewish people had become more and more like their neighbors. They knew that the punishment for adultery was death by stoning but hardly anyone practiced it. That’s why when Joseph found out that Mary was with child, he decided to put her away quietly.

When Jesus was preaching against adultery, He knew what they were thinking. “Yeah, it’s wrong but that’s just the fact of life. Sometimes you just can’t help it. (Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge) It’s not really me but my flesh.” It’s like the little girl who got caught with cookie crumbs all over her face. Her mom said, “Did you get in the cookie jar?” To which she replied, “I was just walking by and my teeth got caught in the cookie jar.” What Jesus was saying was, “Oh so it’s not you but your eye and your hand that made you sin? Then why don’t you just pluck out your eye and chop off your hand.”

Question: Whom do you blame for your sin life? Do you blame your flesh or the world? Did the Devil make you do it? Do you take responsibility for your sin life?

QUESTION #2 – CAN SEXUAL SINS SEND US TO HELL? NO.

Twice Jesus says, “for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” Even though we know that Jesus is being sarcastic, it still sounds like he’s saying, “If you don’t deal with sexual sins, you’ll go to hell.” Some people have used this passage to claim that – You can lose your salvation and go to hell if you fail to repent from adultery. Not true.

Background: God’s people throughout the ages have been distinct when it comes to how they view marriage. They looked upon it as a sacred institution given by God and should be lived and enjoyed with holiness and fear. Adultery was a mark of unbelievers. Not only did God institute strict penalty against it but also repeatedly he chastised His people to stay away from it.

Jeremiah 7   9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered to do all these abominations’? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD.

Malachi 2 13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.

Proverbs 6 32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul. 33 Wounds and dishonor he will get, And his reproach will not be wiped away.

What Jesus was saying is “When will you realize that God hates adultery? How long are you going to keep making excuses for your sin? Don’t you know that people going to Hell act this way? When will you start taking sin seriously and repent before God?”

Listen to Paul in I Corinthians 6   9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. But just when you think you cannot be saved, listen to the next verse – 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Application: God is asking the same questions to each of us today – “When will we realize how terrible adultery is?” “Don’t you know that people going to Hell act this way?” Do you feel good about your behavior?

QUESTION #3 – ARE SEXUAL SINS WORSE THAN OTHER SINS? YES.

Background: Why are sexual sins so bad in the sight of God? God places a very high value on our bodies. Remember – Unlike the rest of the creation that God simply said, “let there be” and there it was; He actually made us in His image. Man and woman was the crown of God’s creation. Keep in mind that God is spirit who sees, hears, touches, and speaks. He made us to be just like him, to see, hear, touch, and speak, but with a bodily form. Somehow, God transferred His spiritual, eternal characteristics into a physical, tangible form. It’s mind blowing! Why? Because God wanted us to enjoy life! God could have made us just spirit but He wanted us to see and feel and touch and speak and connect in marriage. The human body is an amazing gift of God! It is God’s masterpiece and why not! After all, one day He would have to design one for His own Son!

Listen carefully – God holds the copyright and the title to every single human body. It belongs to Him. For us to misuse it is to misuse someone else’s property. Imagine if you loaned me a very expensive torque wrench and I decided to misuse and abuse it to drive a nail. What would you do? Hand it over. That’s why murder is punishable by death. Who gave you the right to end that body? That’s why abortion and euthanasia is wrong. That’s why adultery is so wrong because it defiles the body that is not yours to defile. Hence in the Old Testament it was punishable by death.

Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6   18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Then to the Christian – 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Application: What do you think about your body? Do you know that it is someone else’s property? What do you think about the body of another person, man or woman? Do you know that it too belongs to God?

The bigger question is – What do you do? Some Christians say – Didn’t Paul say in I Corinthians 9:27 I “beat my body into submission” and in Colossians 3:5 “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire…” I remind them to read a few verses earlier in Colossians 2   20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. It’s not about gouging out your eye and chopping off your hand, it is about your eye and your hand and all of you belonging to Christ.

Application: Does your body belong to Christ? If you are saved, then you have been bought with a price. Is the Holy Spirit in control of your body? Are you saved?

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